The Toil and Trouble Trilogy: Book One by VJ Chambers
Loyalty. Family. Trust.
Olivia Calabrese has valued nothing more strongly since her mob boss father was arrested and her mother was killed in the cross fire. Even though her family sells illegal magical charms that have the nasty side effect of turning some wearers into berserkers—rage-filled monsters—she sees betrayal as a far worse offense than harming people. To prove her loyalty, she dreams of succeeding her father as head of the mob family.
When her uncle, the current boss, is shot by a rival gang, she just might get her chance.
But her cousin, her only competition, whispers something to her that throws her off track. He says her mother ratted the family out to the police. He says that her mother’s death wasn’t an accident, but a hit ordered by her father.
Her entire worldview called into question, Olivia sets about hunting down the truth about her parents. And to complicate matters, she seems to be falling for a boy who’s turning into a berserker—from her own family’s charms.
As her set of values shatters around her, Olivia must choose between staying loyal to her family or fighting against them.
The Toil and Trouble Trilogy Book One is an NA book with some violent scenes best for a more mature audience.
The Toil and Trouble Trilogy opens with a boy and a girl on the bleachers, but after that, all bets are off. Olivia thought Bryce would be an easy first for her but when Bryce turns into a Beserker. It’s something she’s familiar with because the charms her mob family make and distribute pose the risk of turning people into monsters for at least an hour a night. Looks like any chance of a romance is over, right? Maybe.
Olivia is not your typical female main character, at least not in books that I’ve read lately. This is by no means a bad thing. Olivia is deeply involved with her family’s mob activities. So much so that she wants to run family one day. She’s out to prove herself, but she’s going to do things her way. She’s such a dynamic character with multiple roles to play. She is not the same person with her grandmother, nor is she the same with Bryce. She’s always ready for a challenge, and she’s willing to tackle it head on. I also enjoyed Bryce for his devotion and willingness to see beyond Olivia’s family and thus the exterior she puts on because of her role in the family. He’s one of those characters that you fear to like because of what he’s dealing with in the book. Will he be around much longer? This is just one of the questions I have surrounding the next book.
The setting is dark and gritty, lots of action at night in alleys and in backrooms. It matches the plot very well, one of the best pairings that I’ve read.
Toil and Trouble Book 1 had me at the first chapter and kept me all the way through the ending. I have many questions that I can’t wait to learn the answers to in Books 2 and 3. This is the second book by V.J. Chambers that I’ve read (you can read my review of Vigil here), and I am glad to say that I enjoyed this book just as much. I look forward to reading a third (and a fourth).